Wednesday, August 01, 2012

press release followed by commentary

This appeared in my inbox because GenCon still thinks I am a legit member of the press.

Hostile Work Environment Brings Life to Roleplaying Games 
SEATTLE (August 1, 2012) There is a new company launching today which is solely dedicated to roleplaying games and the core of what makes them so enduring, the craft of storytelling. Peter D. Adkison, former CEO of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., and owner of Gen Con, LLC, America’s biggest tabletop games convention, is pleased to announce the formation of his new multi-media company, Hostile Work Environment™. Through a variety of media formats, Hostile Work Environment will bring life to roleplaying games, not by publishing them, but by filming, narrating, and illustrating them online, engaging and interacting with audiences worldwide. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about Hostile Work Environment!  Roleplaying games are my passion and through my new company, I’m creating ways for people to experience RPG’s that will resonate with long-time players and new audiences alike,” said Peter D. Adkison, founder and CEO of Hostile Work Environment. 

The first production for Hostile Work Environment will be a web series dedicated to a Dungeon & Dragon’s campaign titled The First Paladin, which is set in Adkison’s fantasy world of Chaldea.  

“The launch of The First Paladin web series is just the first step in what I expect will be many opportunities to explore ways to both interact with gamers dynamically in shaping stories, and to create entertainment across a variety of platforms including producing short and feature films for this specific genre market,” adds Peter.  

Hostile Work Environment brings together a highly experienced team of industry professionals, which gives it the clear vision necessary to make it a leading contender in the industry. CEO Peter D. Adkison founded Wizards of the Coast, Inc., and grew it to a multimillion-dollar company before selling it to Hasbro in 1999.  Under his leadership, Wizards of the Coast created an entirely new genre of games with the release of the world’s first trading card game, Magic: The Gathering®, and salvaged the Dungeons & Dragons® franchise through a business turnaround and publication of the wildly-successful 3rd Edition. 

Joining Adkison at Hostile Work Environment is Kim Voynar, who will serve as producer on HWE's The First Paladin web series and website.  Based in Seattle, Voynar previously produced "White Knights," directed by Joe Shapiro, and produced, wrote and directed "Bunker" via her Catawampus! production company. Since 2004, she has been a leading voice in the world of film journalism, as managing editor and film critic at AOL's Cinematical, and features editor and film critic for Movie City News.
About Hostile Work Environment
Hostile Work Environment, LLC, is a privately held company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Its mission is to bring life to roleplaying games (RPG’s) through a variety of media platforms, creating ways to introduce gamers to new and challenging ways to participate and connect with RPG’s.  

Media Contact:
Stacia Kirby

Off-the-cuff analysis:
  • Hostile Work Environment may be the douchiest company name in the history of the game industry.  Can anybody top that?  Unless there's a Gang Rape Games or Hitler Was Right Productions out there, this has got to be about the worst company moniker around.
  • Points off for the copywriter for an unnecessary apostrophe in the phrase "a Dungeon & Dragon’s campaign titled The First Paladin".
  • Prediction: this web series will be four times slicker and half as interesting as I Hit It With My Axe.


  1. Anonymous1:08 PM

    Yeah, it was not too impressive. I'm also a bit bothered that someone is going to be making a presumably well-made series which might get more mainstream exposure... and reinforces the idea that RPGs are all about some kind of big story, one that apparently could even be translated into other media, if I am reading the press release right. IT always amazes me how many people wish to bury or ignore the real strength of RPGs and limit them to simply being "a story".

  2. Is this like that time Mr. Mxyzptlk tried to copyright the alphabet? Is every HR department going to have to give Adkison a nickel?

  3. I think Hostile Work Environment would work if it was the name of a company that sells high visibility vests, work gloves and safety goggles, all with skulls, barbed wire and flames on them to construction workers.

  4. Anonymous2:18 PM

    Agreed -- a very, very douchy name. Really creates a positive image for RPGs. What an ass.

    The first project sounds very wanky. Maybe he thought this is April 1st?

  5. Yes, the man who rescued DnD by selling it to Hasbro moves on to his latest phenomenon.

  6. "Axe" without porn stars or Zak's DMing is like, I dunno, a high school production of Mad Men with script by Adam Sandler.

  7. You know, the only thing worse than listening to someone's story about a game session is, well, watching it. Unless you're there, or were there, this has Zero appeal to me.

  8. Worst company name ever except for the examples you provided. Something tells me that Pete doesn't have enough "this is a bad idea" men surrounding him and too many Yes Men nodding furiously with sycophantic grins at every utterance he makes.

    @Anonymous above: might be parsing "story" too tightly there. I've yet to experience an RPG that, after all was done, couldn't be summed up as a fine story.

  9. This makes me sad. I mean, Peter Adkison deserves credit for some of the stuff he's done--in my book, 3E was a darn good thing for D&D after TSR had crashed into the ground. But this just seems stupid, and the company's name is appalling. I guess if he wants to waste the money he got from Magic, etc., it's his money. But it still makes me sad.

  10. Another vote for Bad Name - have we run out of clever references or inside jokes that might actually have something to do with gaming? "TPK Productions"? "2d6 Productions"? Hey, how about "First Paladin Productions"?

    Also: "Its mission is to bring life to roleplaying games (RPG’s) through a variety of media platforms, creating ways to introduce gamers to new and challenging ways to participate and connect with RPG’s." - Connect with RPG's? What does that mean, exactly? What would be a "challenging" way to do it?

    Could this press release have sounded any more disconnected and corporate?

  11. It is an inside joke - Atkinson had that HR situation in WOTC when it went "big time" because he didn't stop with the company retreats that were really "lets all get drunk and mess around" excuses. And he lamented that change in culture that came with a big company.

    So I'm guessing that this name means that once again, an Atkinson-thrown company holiday party is must-see-TV.

    1. I think that a past history of (arguably and allegedly) creating a hostile work environment makes the name worse, not better. Sexual harassment isn't a joke. Treating it as one is in bad taste, and the history of allegations makes it seem like it's endorsing it. Plus, it makes for worrisome and confusing headlines. "Wait--someone's alleging a hostile work environment in the RPG industry? No, wait, that's not what the headline says at all."

  12. Anonymous8:56 PM

    @ Tori: Hi, this is the Anon from above. I agree with you that most games would make a good story when it's all over, specifically for those who were there making it happen. However, my reading of the press release made it seem like they wanted to provide this as entertainment somehow, as if it were a real piece of fiction to satisfy a larger audience. I don't think that would work, unless the game session is highly planned-out and plotted without much spontaneity. Maybe I am wrong.

    1. Aha, gotcha! Then we are in agreement....if that is what they are aiming for, it misses the point of the RPG experience entirely.

  13. Anonymous1:14 AM

    I like the name. It's obviously tongue in cheek and clever enough that I kinda wish I'd thought of it first.

  14. I'm another non-fan of the name. The gaming community has way too many hostile play environments for the allusion not to make me wince. I'm skeptical of the company's mission as well, but I'll reserve judgment on that until they've produced something.

  15. Depends on how many hostile play environments you've run into, I suppose.

  16. Anonymous8:10 AM

    The apostrophe is not unnecessary, it's just in the wrong place. It should be after the s, not before. The apostrophe is showing possession of the campaign, as it is the campaign belonging to [the brand] Dungeons & Dragons.

  17. Anonymous6:26 PM

    Yeah worst company name ever. These people don't realize that their name will obfuscate other internet searches, prevent people from finding game information, and be a massive put-off to a lot of potential players.

    Also, they're just trying to make money off filming gameplay. There's already a huge amount of that going on: it's called Youtube and you get it all for free.

  18. Jon Hendry9:07 PM

    The only way the company name works is if it were referring to the characters' "work environment", ie, dungeons full of monsters and such.

    That appears not to be the inspiration, if EOTB is correct.